Leslie Gelb writes: This may well surprise experts, but senior administration officials tell me that Obama has been modifying his objective and is now prepared to work with Assad, to some degree, along with the moderate rebels, against what the White House finally has come to see as the real and major threat — the jihadists. These senior officials further say that they expect support in this new policy from previous opponents, i.e. from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.
Reuters reports: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s certain victory in an election next month, derided internationally as a charade, leaves Turkey facing a bitter truth – its assumption of his quick demise was a costly miscalculation.
With al Qaeda-linked armed groups controlling patches of territory across Turkey’s southern border and a registered refugee influx set to top a million within months, Syria’s three-year old war presents Ankara with an increasing financial burden and a growing security threat.
A gun battle in March when special forces raided the suspected Istanbul hide-out of an Islamist militant group active in Syria highlighted the potential threat to Turkey from the thousands of foreign jihadis who have been drawn into the conflict, a portion of them entering Syria over the Turkish border.
The torching of a building housing Syrian refugees in Ankara this month meanwhile pointed to anger at the growing social and economic costs of a humanitarian response which has already cost Turkey close to $3 billion.
With Assad facing no serious challenger in a June 3 election which his Western and Arab foes, as well as the Syrian opposition, have dismissed as a parody of democracy, such tensions are unlikely to dissipate any time soon. [Continue reading…]